The number of front desks at police stations across Scotland has fallen by a quarter since the force’s creation a decade ago, new figures show.
Data obtained by using freedom of information requests show the number of police counters has fallen from 340 in 2013 – the year of Police Scotland’s inception – to 253 in 2023.
Previous figures have suggested that around 140 police stations have been closed and officer numbers are roughly 900 fewer than a decade ago.
The Scottish Liberal Democrats, who obtained the figures, said links between communities and their local officers are failing as a result.
The issue of depleting police stations will be addressed in Holyrood this week during justice portfolio questions.
Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur said: “When Police Scotland was introduced by SNP ministers, the public were told it would deliver significant cost savings which could be invested elsewhere in the service. Instead it has seen police counters closing across Scotland.
“The police are most effective when they are embedded in the communities they serve. Not only that but it is a source of comfort to people to know that they can go into a police station and speak to an officer face-to-face.
“There will always be a need for the police estate to match up with the demands of the service, but I know officers who are as frustrated as the public are that they now operate from central stations further away from the communities they serve, especially in remote and rural areas.”
McArthur went on to say his party will continue to press for links to remain between “officers and their communities at the heart of Scottish policing”.
He added: “The Scottish Government must not make the same mistakes with their proposed takeover of social care services. Local accountability is valuable and bureaucratic reform programmes have a tendency to spiral out of control.”
Earlier this month, McArthur raised concern that more than a quarter of Police Scotland’s properties were rated at a condition which is less than “satisfactory”.
The analysis suggested 60% of the 310 properties were in a satisfactory condition, while 15% were just below this level and 13% were assessed as “poor”.
Meanwhile, 4% were said to be in a “good condition”.